I’m not going to sit here and talk about specifics and stuff, I know what has to be changed. I have to talk to the players individually and collectively. It’s a long season, it’s four games in, they will be modified and changed eventually. —RSL coach Mike Petke
SANDY — Mike Petke has a good idea of what’s not right with Real Salt Lake at the moment, and he also has a plan to fix it. Just don’t expect him to talk much about the details.
RSL’s coach diverged on multiple tangents discussing with reporters on Monday what went wrong in last Friday’s 3-1 loss at Toronto. The underlying theme throughout his post-practice interview was the team’s mentality. “And when I say mentality, it covers a lot of things,” reiterated Petke.
Pressed for details, Petke declined.
“I’m not going to sit here and talk about specifics and stuff, I know what has to be changed. I have to talk to the players individually and collectively. It’s a long season, it’s four games in, they will be modified and changed eventually,” said Petke.
Whether those changes are personnel or tactical will play out on the field in the coming weekends, beginning this Saturday at Rio Tinto Stadium against Vancouver.
One of the ways Petke might address the issues is by looking back. Kyle Beckerman hinted after Monday’s practice that the team was planning on watching video of some of last year’s games to re-familiarize everyone with how RSL played last year and why it was so successful the second half of the season.
Petke said that perhaps last year’s success down the stretch has had a negative impact early this season.
“Perhaps when I look back — and I said I wouldn’t talk much about last year — but when I look back at the run we had last year, maybe some guys think that we’re just that good, we’re going to show up to every game and we’re going to do the things we did over the last six months,” said Petke.
“The last six months are out of the equation. Teams know what we’re capable of now and they’re going to do things to not let us do those things.”
Real Salt Lake led MLS last season with 16.1 shots per game, but in four games this season its shot totals are 9, 21, 6 and 8 respectively. It’s extremely tough to beat the reigning MLS Cup champs when you only generate eight shots on goal.
“You can teach players to pass the ball from A to B. You can teach a player to move 3 yards to the left to receive the ball. I’m not a psychiatrist. It’s going to be interesting to talk to individuals and collectively about our mentality,” said Petke.
RSL’s mentality after the Los Angeles FC thrashing last month was a positive one the following week after it bounced back with a win over New York. Albert Rusnak said that needs to be the approach this week.
“You can’t keep thinking about the Toronto game. We lost to LAFC in the worst manner and in the worst way, and we bounced back with a win. As long as we can bounce back with a win against Vancouver this Saturday that will be forgotten,” said Rusnak.
Real Salt Lake must figure out a way to generate more chances than it has so far this season to expect to come away with three points from the Vancouver game.